WordPress 2.0 and Joe Blogger

I’ve upgraded my main blog to WordPress 2.0 (in fact, I did so just a few days before the official release). But I can certainly understand why many users are reluctant to upgrade. WordPress 2.0 contains many enhancements, but they are not going to entice everyone. In fact, the enhancements seem to target two groups: plugin developers and blog-newbies. The under-the-engine changes are impressive. Writing plugins for WordPress 2.0 is faster and easier than ever. I’ve been looking at my plugins, and noticing that I am going to be able to rip out entire sections of code that is no longer needed, because of WordPress 2.0’s enhancements. The role system is great… and will be even better once that rumored 3rd party role manager plugin is released (and please, bundled with future versions of WordPress!) But the role changes are only of use for a small percentage of blogs… and the plugins to take advantage of the changes are still few.

As for the outside-the-hood enhancements, they seem to mainly target users who are not internet- or blog-savy. Exhibit A: the WYSIWYG post editor. This is the feature that would get my mom interested. Average Joe blogger can type <em></em> in his sleep, so this feature isn’t really of use to him. The other enhancements like the collapsible and repositionable post area elements are nice, but not must-haves. The image uploading changes are once again more oriented towards beginner use. The admin looks nicer, but not Mint nice… not “I must have it so I can pet it” nice.

Not much is offered to the regular blogger. What’s more… some plugins (I’m guessing about 10%) will need to be updated to work with WordPress 2.0. Overall, there just isn’t a compelling reason for Joe blogger to upgrade… now. However, I do think that the exciting under-the-hood changes are going to lead to bigger, better, and easier-to-use plugins coming from plugin developers. So it may be that while the under-the-hood changes don’t provide a good reason for Joe blogger to upgrade right now, the 3rd party enhancements made possible by the engine changes will end up being the main attraction. I know that I’m certainly not going to be spending too much effort writing plugins with WordPress 1.5.x compatibility. I will when I can, but not if it’s going to hinder me. I don’t want to be held back, I want to prod people forward, and entice them to upgrade.

If you’ve decided not to upgrade, leave a comment on Owen’s post and explain why. I think that a lot of people just don’t yet have a compelling reason to upgrade… but if you’re not upgrading because of some change in WordPress 2.0 that you regard as a step backwards, then speak up, by all means.

9 thoughts on “WordPress 2.0 and Joe Blogger

  1. You and I are in the same situation. The benefit of working with 2.0 code is profound for plugin developers. I predict that some amazing plugins will become available over the next few months that could actually make a good case for Joe Blogger to upgrade.

    By the way, have you seen the Role Manager?

  2. Checked out the Role Manager a few hours after writing this post last night. Very cool! Although, for some odd reason, it wasn’t showing up under the Users menu at first. I traced the problem to one of my plugins, Kramer, and its admin_menu action, which was array(&$kramer, 'admin_menu'). I moved the add_action within the class, and switch to using the &$this object and then the Role Manager started working.

    The roles are already of use to me… not for my blog, but for a client. There are issues… such as the lack of hooks for the Role assignment page. For example, the client wanted to have a Role that could manage authors, but not promote them to admins, or mess with admin data… and in order to prevent that, I had to sniff for $_POST and check the REQUEST_URI to intercept and block the author manages from messing with administrators. But all-in-all it is quite useful.

  3. To the extent people use WP as a platform and run dozens of plugins, they’re going to be slower to upgrade at first and then more enticed as more is built on top of the increased capabilities a new version adds. I don’t see this as a bad thing, it’s actually a testament to the maturity of the platform.

    What I would like, though, is more data about how many people are using what plugins, so we can better communicate with those authors and prepare them more in advance of a new release. I think the wp-plugins.org repository is a HUGE first step, next is building a sane directory for humans to use and then tracking the attention and usage data attached to that both to highlight the good/popular stuff and also check compatibility and audit the most widely used add-ons.

  4. Definitely not a bad thing. I really like the idea of WordPress as a platform. I can’t tell you how many times I visit sites and find myself thinking through how I could use WordPress to power it. What’s most impressive is how many times I conclude that I could do it without editing core files… that is, I could do it all through template and plugin development.

    I’d love to see wp-plugins.org fleshed out. It would be really great if there was a way of providing data about plugin use as opposed to downloads. A plugin can sound really cool, but if it’s a pain to use, people will deactivate it. In that case, the downloads aren’t a good indicator of the plugin’s usefulness or market penetration. I’ll get dragged out to the town square and shot for daring to suggest anonymous phone-home data regarding plugin activation/deactivation, but it would be really cool. Not only that, but it could also be used as a system for notifying users of plugin updates. This could lead to a really robust test install of WordPress for us that includes the top X (30 or so) plugins and would give us early warning about potential problems as we continue to develop WordPress.

  5. I have switched our church web site to 2.0.3 from 1.5, but am regretting it now. We are using WP Pages for our static pages and WP Posts for monthly letters from the ministers, vestry minutes, etc.

    My problem is that I discovered under WP2 I can no longer change the ownership of a page to a new author. Actually I can make the change, but he cannot edit the page. I am trying the Role Manager plug-in, but when I give him permission to edit Pages, he can edit all pages, not just his own. Under 1.5 this was never a problem. An “owner” at level 5 could only edit his page{s} and the administrator could reassign pages to new owners.

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